The tentative publication date of John Bolton’s anxiously awaited tell-all book account of President Donald Trump’s plot to withhold military aid from Ukraine is March 17th. That date is not set in stone: The book may not come out until some time in April, or even May.
President Trump’s lawyers will do their best to either stop publication entirely, or else to force redactions that enable Trump to declare himself completely exonerated. He might even tell Americans to buy the book to see for themselves.
Tollymore Investment Partners 2Q20 Letter: ESG ≠ sustainable investing
Bolton, an old cold war warrior, has long been a tenacious advocate of a strong national defense. He believes that Trump’s delaying military aid to Ukraine, our ally against Russia, was a very serious mistake – one which put our national security at risk.
Ironically, all the president’s lawyers will make the same claim about Bolton's book. Virtually anything he reveals about his conversations with the president about delaying that aid will itself adversely affect our national security.
But the big question is not whether Trump or Bolton was right. While Bolton's book might well change the minds of millions of Americans, perhaps even enough to cost President Trump reelection, there is a much more immediate question.
Will his book be published? And if it is, how heavily will it be redacted?
Will it be so heavily redacted that Trump will appear as innocent as a new-born baby?
John Bolton's book
While that is a possibly, it’s highly doubtful. Remember a fellow named Jeff Bezos, who holds a place of honor on President Trump’s most hated list? Bezos incurred Trump’s eternal wrath by allowing the Washington Post -- which he purchased a few years ago – to publish highly critical political columns about the president.
The founder and largest stockholder of Amazon, Bezos has a dominant say not only about which books Americans will buy. Even if all the president’s lawyers, in defiance of the first amendment, managed to bar Bolton's book from being printed or distributed in the United States, Bezos could easily overcome these obstacles.
Even under the heavy hand of the literary censors of the Soviet Union, writers and their secret supporters managed to turn out samizdat copies of their work, which were widely distributed. In American today, Bezos and his allies, utilizing Amazon’s global reach and the willing aid of the social media, he would have little trouble making Bolton's book a number one bestseller.
Donald Trump may not read books, but he can’t stop the rest of us from reading what ever we want. He can yell and throw tantrums, but in the end, he won’t be able to beat Bolton, Bezos, or the first amendment.